I am very proud and excited to talk about my involvement with this year’s Gymnastics Ontario (GO) Coaching Congress, happening this week in Toronto. Being a part of this conference is a chance for me to see and hear all the wonderful things other coaches are up to. Since I am presenting, I get to share my experiences as well as the messages and philosophies behind Gymtastics GymTools with other gymnastics professionals. Like me, they have committed their lives to teaching (and playing with) little ones.


As a gymnastics coach for more than 35 years, I have had the pleasure of working with so many enthusiastic, positive people.

Gymnastics coaches have real passion for:

  • Gymnastics as a sport and its role in child development
  • What we can teach children, and what it can mean to them as their bodies and minds grow

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough information out there for coaches and teachers at the recreation and pre-school level about routines, exercises and the role they play in a young person’s growth.

Coaches and teachers have lots of passion, but not enough information to do their jobs as effectively as they want to.

Conferences like the GO Congress are a big part of the movement to change that.

This year, I will be presenting on four topics. The motivation for these subjects has always been the foundation of what we do here at Gymtastics GymTools.

The lesson, over and over again, is to think about the whole child when developing programs:

  • The young person’s needs
  • The developmental impact of routines and exercises
  • Finding ways to structure your programs so they serve the child’s individual needs

Gymnastics aren’t the end goal; an active, happy, healthy boy or girl is.

Setting up Successful Preschool Programs

Any coach starting to put together a preschool program knows the skills they want to teach. The big question with children at this age isn’t what; it’s how. The way a class is set up at this stage can make or break a program.

For many little ones, programs like these are a child’s first experience in any kind of structured environment. This means coaches aren’t just dealing with their little athletes. They’re also dealing with the needs of parents who are seeing their little ones in this kind of environment for the first time. Parents are full of just as many questions (and significantly more doubts) about the situation.

It is so important for coaches to set the stage for learning -

  • Make activities engaging to keep kids busy and stimulated
  • Rationalize the time and expense to parents who are right there with you.

So much thinking and learning goes on before the most basic gymnastic skill is taught. You must think about routine, discipline, structure… all the “hows.” How are you going to work in basic body movement? Hand-eye coordination? Progressive movements? Let parents in on your strategy to educate them about the process.

There is nothing more fun than watching a parent start to really see all the ways their child is developing right there in front of them!

Check back over the next few days for more information on the four topics I’m presenting in Toronto.

See you back here soon!

From Darlene “The Bean”


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